These three fears could be keeping you from healing.
First off, I’m an advocate of happiness, and sometimes that happiness leads us towards divorce—or staying in a committed marriage—this journey is ours alone to discover.
Years ago, I remember sitting in my truck with my things packed and looking back at the house I was paying two mortgages on and had poured blood, sweat and tears into. I told myself, “You can work hard and provide the best. But what’s it worth if it’s just a facade of a happy place you loved once and now you’re trying to forget ever existed?”
I knew, on that day, it’d be a long time before I’d ever consider getting married again.
If I could go back and talk to myself during the separation and pre-divorce, I’d first obliterate these three secret fears no one wants tells you about, but everyone thinks of.
1. “I must be really screwed up, because I’m separated/divorced and alone.”
Those first few weeks of being a single, separated dad where the roughest. I questioned my self-worth in so many ways. I’d ask myself, “What the heck is wrong with me?”
I blamed everything and everyone for my shortcomings and separation, especially myself. Then, after bouncing in and out this vicious pattern, I started to ask better questions instead.
I asked myself, “If this is another chance at doing things my way, what should I do that I’ve always wanted to do? Then, I thought and replied back to myself, “Prove that you deserve to live the best and have the best.”
My mission became to re-make myself and live with a passion I’d never felt before. For the first time in awhile, I felt happy about the possibilities of being a single father.
I began to: work out first thing in the morning, weight train weekly, and master the art of small conversations. My confidence began to grow fast and even the unimaginable happened.
I found myself on stage entertaining a large crowd and I began to ooze confidence. Nothing was holding me back anymore. Freedom was my blessing. I had lost over twenty-five pounds, and my self-confidence was at new heights. Life was fun again.
Bottom line: If the worst thing could happen, and then so could the best things. Lining up with the possibilities and re-creating myself was the master key.
2. “My ex-spouse will drive me crazy and make my life the worst possible.”
Truth be told, not disliking your ex-spouse will be the toughest during the first year, and even the second—depends on your situation.
Let me say, I had every conceivable reason to dislike my ex and guess what? I really did. But for the sake of our kids, my health, and most importantly my sanity, I had to grab the reigns on any destructive emotions.
That meant I had to bite my tongue, no matter how many buttons were pushed. I would save all of those destructive emotions for a different place, and find outlets to use that anger for good.
I learned the hard way anger and resentment only lead down an emotional roller coaster meant to bring more of the same, and this roller coaster ride doesn’t come cheap.
After the up and down emotional ride, emotions and reasoning are fried.
Mental and physical exhaustion kicks in—not great for anyone’s health. So instead, I stepped back and found personal growth outlets, and used that energy to my own benefit.
I would spend time hitting a punching bag, training at the gym, running, walks at the park, writing, listening to self-help audio, reading self-help books, singing, dancing, watching funny movies and attending support groups.
Secret tip: I stayed proactive to blow ups and blocked all text messages from my ex and would listen to voice mails only. I put an end to the unexpected text messages, waking me up and flustering emotions. I used what I like to call the, ‘screen calls for sanity’s sake’ method. I found a way to defuse the drama.
I also discovered that we tend to attract other emotional hot messes the more we allow drama to roam free. Aiming for emotional stability has proven the best medicine for my sanity.
There’s a saying, ‘like attracts like’. So if we’re a ‘hot mess’ guess, what we attract more of? Yup, nothing good.
Bottom line: Emotional healing can’t begin if you’re still a ‘hot-mess’.
Stay under control and take precaution, because your sanity will be under attack.
3. “My kid’s lives will forever be traumatized because of divorce.”
In the beginning, I was torn about thinking my kids wouldn’t have a good childhood beyond divorce—than I began to see the positive sides.
First, people get divorced every day, and it’s more common than we think.
Secondly, I had decided that I wasn’t going to fight how my parents did—until they finally divorced, but wasted so much time being unhappy—no way, not me.
Then one day, I had a conversation with my youngest daughter. She was feeling sad about the divorce, and she needed cheering up. In my attempt I said, “Honey, you’ll have the best of both worlds.”
She said, “What do you mean?
I said, “You will have two of everything, two birthday cakes and double the gifts on birthdays and holidays.”
She looked at me with curiosity and tears stopping. She realized maybe it wasn’t going to be as bad as she thought; the smile came back soon after.
Trusting in the resilience of our kids to navigate through tough terrain will help us through our doubts, because kids are more resilient than we imagine.
My childhood was rattled with harsh lessons, from navigating around the schoolyard bullies to finding best friends. As kids, we found a way to make it work, but children need to express their emotions as adults do.
Most importantly, being present in our kid’s daily lives is essential for their growth and stability. Trusting us as single parents that we will be a strong pillar of strength and consistency is vital. Kids need to be heard and opening up space for them to communicate helps in their personal healing. Also, finding professional therapy for them is important.
Bottom line: Daily communication and being there to listen is important for our kid’s development, create a place for them to open up and start conversations with you.
Fears and emotions are normal, as we discover what will be best for our growth, and as we grow out of relationships and enter new ones. As I learned throughout the journey—fear becomes an illusion as we begin to take control of emotions.
What once were limitations, become opportunities, as possibilities become clear for personal growth.
Photo: Flickr/ siti fatimah